Celebrations are in order for two of the UK’s best pub chefs – Milan Hukal from Grundisburgh, nominated by Dr Daniel Poulter MP and Robert Yuill, from Dundee, nominated by Chris Law MP. The pair took the spotlight last night (23rd Feb), as they were crowned winners at the Parliamentary Pub Chef of the Year Awards, held at the House of Commons.
Run by the British Beer & Pub Association and the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group, in partnership with Nestlé Professional, the event was a huge success with over 100 selected attendees from the education, media and pub industry including celebrity chef and judge, Paul Merrett, and Pubs Minister, Marcus Jones MP.
The festivities took place from 7pm to 9pm, with guests enjoying canapés and a selection of beers from seven different brewers, whilst eagerly awaiting the results.
Over 120 nominations were received from MPs around the country who selected a pub chef from within their constituency for the inaugural awards. The competition was intense, making for an onerous task of whittling the nominees down to four finalists in each of the two categories. A cook-off was staged in January where each of the finalists had the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity and flair in presenting a dish to the select panel of judges. Each then undertook an interview. The tension has been mounting in the run-up to the results.
First up was Young Pub Chef winner, Robert Yuill, nominated by Chris Law MP (Dundee West) for his skill and food at the D’Arcy Thompson, Dundee presented by Andrew Griffiths MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Beer Group. He was followed by the Pub Chef category winner, presented by DEFRA Minister George Eustice MP which went to Milan Hukal, who was nominated by Dr Daniel Poulter MP (Central Suffolk and North Ipswich) for his chef skills at the Dog Inn, Grundisburgh,
In the cook-off, which took place at Fuller’s The Vintry pub in London, Robert wowed the judges with a delicious venison dish, while Milan cooked brill with razor clams, which were perfectly seasoned and well balanced.
Milan said: “It feels absolutely amazing to win, I honestly didn’t expect it. This is the first award I’ve ever won, I can’t exactly tell you, but this was something that I didn’t realise I can do and I did, I just genuinely tried my best.”
Robert said, “Everybody was very, very good I’m sure the competition is going to do well for the industry in years to come and I’m sure it will benefit me and everybody involved in the future – delighted, delighted! I just wasn’t expecting to win. The kind of recognition this competition offers is exactly what I think people need to get the importance of pub chef’s and attract more and more talent to the industry.”
Brigid Simmonds, Chief Executive, British Beer & Pub Association:
“The huge response to our Pub Chef competition from MPs has been a real inspiration, and we’ve enjoyed so many amazing dishes from our great pub chefs. There is already huge talent in the sector, and we must work with MPs, local colleges and the whole pub sector to ensure that the next generation of pub chefs has the skills, support and opportunities to take the sector even further.”
George Vezza, Managing Director at Nestlé Professional®:
“At Nestlé Professional®, we are passionate about nurturing new talent in the Hospitality Industry and our Toque d’Or competition for student chefs is just one example of this commitment. This year we are proud to have supported the Parliamentary Pub Chef and Young Pub Chef of the Year Award and hope that the skill and talent displayed by Robert and Milan will inspire the next generation of chefs to consider careers in the pub sector. As more and more people are choosing pubs as destinations for eating out, this is indeed a very exciting time to develop a career as a chef”, said George Vezza, Managing Director at Nestlé Professional®.